WHO updates its fact sheet on Universal Health Coverage (12 December, 2017)

On occasion of Universal Health Coverage Day (12 December each year), the World Health Organization (WHO) has updated its fact sheet on Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

Background Information:

At least 400 million people globally lack access to one or more essential health services.

Every year 100 million people are pushed into poverty and 150 million people suffer financial catastrophe because of out-of-pocket expenditure on health services.

On average, about 32% of each country’s health expenditure comes from out-of-pocket payments.

Globally, two thirds (38 million) of 56 million deaths each year are still not registered.

Key Messages:

UHC means that all individuals and communities receive the health services they need without suffering financial hardship.

It includes the full spectrum of essential, quality health services, from health promotion to prevention, treatment, rehabilitation, and palliative care.

UHC enables everyone to access the services that address the most important causes of disease and death, and ensures that the quality of those services is good enough to improve the health of the people who receive them.

Achieving UHC is one of the targets the nations of the world set when adopting the Sustainable Development Goals in 2015.

All UN Member States have agreed to try to achieve universal health coverage (UHC) by 2030, as part of the Sustainable Development Goals.

UHC provides access to quality essential health services; safe, effective, and affordable essential medicines and vaccines; and protection from financial risk.


Ensuring equitable access requires a transformation in how health services are funded, managed, and delivered so that services are centred around the needs of people and communities.

More than 18 million additional health workers will be needed by 2030 to meet the health workforce requirements of the Sustainable Development Goals and UHC targets, with gaps concentrated in low- and lower-middle-income countries.

Monitoring progress towards UHC should focus on 2 things:

  • The proportion of a population that can access essential quality health services.
  • The proportion of the population that spends a large amount of household income on health.

WHO uses 16 essential health services in 4 categories as indicators of the level and equity of coverage in countries:

Reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health:

  • family planning
  • antenatal and delivery care
  • full child immunization
  • health-seeking behaviour for child illness.

Infectious diseases:

  • tuberculosis treatment
  • HIV antiretroviral treatment
  • coverage of insecticide-treated bed nets for malaria prevention
  • adequate sanitation.

Noncommunicable diseases:

  • prevention and treatment of raised blood pressure
  • prevention and treatment of raised blood glucose
  • cervical cancer screening
  • tobacco (non-)use.

Service capacity and access:

  • basic hospital access
  • health worker density
  • access to essential medicines
  • health security: compliance with the International Health Regulations.

Useful Links:

Link to the WHO news release:


Link to the updated fact sheet:


Link to WHO’s Question and Answer page on UHC:


Link to WHO page about UHC Day 2017:


Link to the United Nations Resolution on Universal Health Coverage:


Link to WHO page on Universal Health Coverage:



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